The scoreboard showed a 9-8 win, but that hardly told the wild and exhausting ride Royals fans took as they watched Tuesday night’s extra-innings playoff game.
For that you just needed to track the noise in the stadium.
114 decibels in the 3rd inning, when the Royals took the lead.
79 when they fell behind.
111 when they tied it in the 12th.
112 in the 12th, when the winning runner touched home.
What began as a night of ear-splitting hope for bouyant fans slid into quiet disappointment, then exploded into raucous elation near midnight.
Some fans made hard choices to get to the stadium for the first playoff game in 29 years, one with his wife near delivering a baby. All knew the playoff was a one-game gamble but they hoped, screamed, exhaled, then screamed again.
Now it’s on to Los Angeles for a playoff series on Thursday.
Here is the story of that crazy playoff game, told through the noise at the stadium and around town:
Parking lot, 4:55 p.m.
As the gates open, fans Cherie and Jeff Bissing make a beeline to a gift shop and drop $500 for a base used on the field during Friday's game that clinched a postseason spot.
“We both worked here during the '85 season, me as an usherette and Jeff in the parking lot,” Cherie Bissing says.
Downtown, fans are already gathering for the Power & Light open-air watch party.
Baseball superstition: Michelle Pointer, 40, says she and her husband actually had tickets to tonight's game but chose to sell them. Of the 10 games they went to this year, the Royals lost 9.
“If they lost and we were there,” Michelle Pointer says, “we would have blamed each other.”
Royals arrive on field
That’s loud. The decibel scale is complex, but basically, 100 is eight times louder than 70, according to university websites.
End of National Anthem
After 10 planes fly overhead in formation, Mike Stolberg says he has two births/berths to choose from:
“The playoffs or my son. Hang in there a little longer babe.”
Although his son could arrive any moment, Stolberg — a 28 year-old Lee's Summit resident — managed to wrangle permission from his wife to be here tonight.
“I just stood there and looked at her until she said, ‘OK, you can get the tickets,’ ” he says.
Escobar hits 1st inning single, Royals soon to score after A’s hit 2-run homer
“AAAAAAH!” roars a fan named Charlie Magnificent (“That's my name,” says the Pittsburg, Kan., man. “I'm not kidding.”)
Magnificent and his girlfriend, Jordan Montgomery, came with standing-room-only seats. But standing at the right place at the right time before the game, they scored the promotion Stub Hub recliners behind section 120.
“AAAAH! I'm the man!”
Hosmer turns double play, Royals escape what looked like a big 3rd inning for A’s
Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp, sitting a few rows back near home plate, stays cool. “No sweat” he says. “We only have to win by one.”
It’s almost as though he knows what’s coming next.
Royals tie it in 3rd inning on Cain’s double
Down at Station 23, at Independence and Van Brunt avenues it was loud too.
“It’s gonna drop! It's gonna drop!” one of the firefighters shouts as Lorenzo Cain slaps the ball to left field, scoring a run.
“One more,” says firefighter Ray McMahon, 46.
The firefighters have had some crazy calls 14-plus hours into their 24-hour shift; car wrecks, small fire, gas leaks. Last thing they want is for the game to get tight and for them to suddenly have to go on call and miss the ending. It sometimes takes them 6 hours to watch a single movie, pausing, on and off.
“I'll bet money we go on a run before the end of the game,” McMahon says.
And here it comes...
Hosmer drops a single to left, Royals take the lead, 3-2
Aubrey Palmer steps up on a crate stowed just behind the last rows of section 132 and leans forward over the seated crowd, pointing to the field.
“We are going to win!” she yells, wobbling on her feet.
Boyfriend Creighton Mayo of Baldwin City, Kan., stands behind her with arms outstretched in case she falls.
Royals go down quietly in the 5th
From the upper deck, Curtis Mercer and Eric Bowen maintain cautious optimism. Even with the lead, they’re not ready to celebrate yet.
Asked how many Royals runs it would take for him to feel comfortable, Bowen replied, “Twenty.”
Shields leaves the game, two on in the 6th
The crowd cheers.
Normal starter Yordano Ventura takes the mound.
Jeff Serven chews his fingernails as he watches on a monitor behind the centerfield scoreboard.
“I don't know all the stats, but I think this is Ventura's first relief apearance,” says Serven of Prairie Village. “You'd think we'd have one of the bullpen guys out there.”
The A’s take a 5-3 lead on a 3-run homer, then score again
Kids and their parents begin to return to the Outfield Experience play equipment.
There stands Bob Messina of Blue Springs, who looks up at a monitor for the first time in a minute. Its 7 to 3.
“Oh no,” Messina says.
Down at the fire station:
“That's it,” the firefighters say. They shake their heads.
“Fat lady sings.”
Royals go down in the 6th
Ebony Dunn hasn't seen any of the game because she works a funnel cake stand behind left field and the nearest big screen is 100 feet away. Now she’s beginning to think that’s a good thing.
“I can figure out things from the sound of the crowd,” she says. “Right now it's just this silent mode.”
At North Kansas City's Screenland Theatre on Armour Road about 50 people slump in their seats like their watching a horror film. They came to for a movie-screen-sized Royals watch party. The 6th inning has killed the atmosphere.
“I hope I don't have to wait another 29 years,” says 16-year-old Peyton Galloway, who came to watch the game with her father, Sean Galloway. “I don't want to be 45.”
“I do think it's over,” her dad says.
Besides, Peyton has homework.
On a passed ball that brings the Royals their third run of the 8th inning: A’s lead 7-6.
With Royals on base, Rebecca Prineau at Crown Classics concessions can no longer stay behind the counter. She sprints out a side door and shoots around a corner to look at a monitor.
The Royals score the second run of the inning, and Prineau screams. She clutches her son Cody, who's 25 and helps Mom work the counter to raise funds for Spring Hill Parents for kids.
Hosmer scores and Prineau screams even louder and in full service uniform, skips up and down the concourse giving high fives.
At the Power & Light District, some faint-hearted have left but many remain.
The crowd goes insane, rising and screaching, as the Royals pull within one.
David Weaver, 21, of Kansas City hops on his bench, along with buddy, Brian Payne, 22.
They urge the crowd on.
“Let's go Royals! Let's go Royals!” then shouts to the quarter moon.
Patrice Freeman and others kneel and pray. An out.
“Bring us home, Lord," she says.
A sacrifice fly scores Dyson, ties the game in the 9th
They're screaming. And stomping. Grown men and women, down and out just an hour earlier hug and laugh as Jarrod Dyson crosses the plate.
The Lundgren family of Olathe, standing-room fans, are on their way to the exits but couldn't miss the tying run. A sleepy J.T. Lundgren, 7, wraps his arms around mother Tami's waist, and hangs on for a while in joy.
Then they head for the parking lot.
“Wish we could stay,” says Tami Lundgren, “but it's past bedtime.”
It’s 10:50 p.m.
Royals tie it in the 12th
And it’s 11:43 p.m.
Perez knocks the winning run home.
Scott Endsley, 44. of Shawnee, hollered as he took pictures of the Royals rushing onto the field. “I can't believe what I saw,” he said.
To reach Mike Hendricks, call 816-234-4738 or send email to email@example.com.